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Arena Holdings walks away with 16 accolades in regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards

12 November 2021 - 07:00 By TimesLIVE
A police officer confronts looters during riots in Springfield Park, Durban, during the "failed insurgency" in the middle of 2021. This image won the Photography category in the KZN region of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.
Winning shot A police officer confronts looters during riots in Springfield Park, Durban, during the "failed insurgency" in the middle of 2021. This image won the Photography category in the KZN region of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Arena Holdings, publisher of both the print and online platforms of Sunday Times, Business Day, Financial Mail, The Herald, Sowetan and Daily Dispatch, recently walked away with several accolades at the regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.

From opinion pieces to photography to features, its journalists were on the front lines of violent riots, homed in on environmental debates and investigated the goings-on within the Zulu royal family, to name but a few. 

Their quality work was rewarded over the past two weeks when newsrooms from five publications across four provinces scooped a combined 16 titles in the regional Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards.

Sunday Times editor S'thembiso Msomi said: “We are extremely proud of our colleagues who have been recognised for the sterling work they have been doing over the past year and often under difficult conditions imposed on all of us by the pandemic. The awards are also a recognition in the improvement of the quality of journalism we continue to deliver for our readers.”

All the winners will now compete in their categories at the national finals, scheduled for November 25.

Below are those award-winning pieces.

For the Sunday Times, photographer Esa Alexander won in the Photography category (Western Cape region) for a picture essay on how kids in Cape Town were playing soccer on patches of ground dotted along the N2 between Nyanga and Khayelitsha.

Also for the Sunday Times, politics reporter Zimasa Matiwane won in the Investigations category (KZN region) for her body of work probing the drama in the Zulu royal family after the death of monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.

In the Features category (Gauteng region), Paul Ash was awarded for his long-form Sunday Times piece into how many religious leaders were profiting from selling the word of God. The piece came in response to self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri fleeing SA after he faced criminal charges, but also looked at other dodgy leaders who “claim to change petrol into pineapple juice, raise the dead and get God to splash the cash”.

Sunday Times journalists Matthew Savides and Orrin Singh, photographer Sandile Ndlovu and audio producer Paige Muller were jointly awarded in the Sustainability category (KZN region) for a series of stories on the murder of anti-mining activist Fikile Ntshangase, who was gunned down in her Zululand home. The articles looking at the deadly clash over a mine expansion were also published on Sunday Times Daily and TimesLIVE, and as part of the “Boots on the Ground” podcast series.

Tara Penny, a Sunday Times columnist, was also a winner in the Opinion category (Gauteng region) for work published in the newspaper and also on EWN.

For TimesLIVE, Durban-based photographer Sandile Ndlovu won for his picture of a police officer confronting looters in Springfield Park during the violent looting in the middle of the year (winning image published at the top of this article).

The Sunday Times' premium online offering, Sunday Times Daily, won another three awards. Two pieces were awarded honours in the Opinion category in two different regions.

Nivashni Nair (KZN region) won for a heart-wrenching piece on how her usually stoic husband reacted to his office being looted and damaged during what President Cyril Ramaphosa would call a “failed insurrection”.

Tanya Farber, who has shifted a lot of her focus in the past 20 months on to the devastating coronavirus pandemic, walked away with the Cape Town regional award in this category for a personal piece on how she battled “two weeks of Covid hell” after getting infected shortly before Christmas 2020.

Also in the Western Cape region for Sunday Times Daily, reporter Aron Hyman received plaudits in the Features category for his excellent series of articles on how children on the Cape Flats dealt with life in the notoriously violent region. The series had a particular focus on the schools and teachers trying to help children through the challenges they faced.

In the Eastern Cape region, Arena Holdings' titles, the Daily Dispatch and The Herald, as well as the Weekend Post, scooped several awards across seven different categories.

In the Photography category, Werner Hills was awarded for his collection of pictures, titled “The Swarm”. The pictures showed the havoc wreaked by billions of locusts as they descended on already drought-stricken Karoo farms.

Photographer Werner Hills of The Herald was a winner in the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards for his series of images called "The Swarm" on how locusts were devastating the Karoo.
Photographer Werner Hills of The Herald was a winner in the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards for his series of images called "The Swarm" on how locusts were devastating the Karoo.
Image: Werner Hills

In the Investigative category, the Daily Dispatch's Bongani Fuzile and Lulamile Feni won for their probe into deadly livestock thefts in the Eastern Cape. The documentary and stories looked at how farmers were left with little choice but to surrender, sell up and migrate — while others were fighting back with all their might.

Also for the Daily Dispatch, Amanda Nano was a winner in the Opinion category for her “Behind The News” piece highlighting the abuse of women in the Eastern Cape. Nano also won a commendation in the Live Reporting/Breaking News category.

The winners in that category were The Herald/Weekend Post reporters Devon Koen and Annelisa Swana for their “Terror on the Tracks” piece looking at how horses were attacked with pangas during protests by angry grooms at the Fairview Racecourse.

Also for the The Herald/Weekend Post, writers Michael Kimberley and Nomazima Nkosi were winners in the Politics category for exposing the instability, court cases, staged kidnappings and claims of bribery that preceded the election of Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga for a second term. All of these underhanded tactics came to light in their series of articles titled “Electing a Mayor”.

In the much-coveted Young Journalist of the Year category, The Herald/Weekend Post's Zamandulo Malonde was named the winner. Malonde will compete for the opportunity to travel abroad and experience newsrooms in other parts of the world. In being nominated for the award, she was described as being versatile and with a work ethic and news sense that belies her age of just 25.

In the Sports category, Daily Dispatch journalist Athenkosi Tsotsi won for his work exposing how sportsmen and women in the province, particularly in former homeland areas, find success against the odds.

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